Friday, July 27, 2012



By Danny Spiteri.

What constitutes a good “banger” is a delicate concept. The basic requirement is that it must engage the listener in an immediately rewarding and dance-friendly fashion. Bangers are not slow-burners; rather, they offer the sort of instant gratification made possible by high volumes and extreme stimulation. Danceable rhythms are crucial, for an effective banger has the power to elicit a wide range of movement, whether it be subdued head nodding, moderate shoulder shrugging, or vigorous ass shaking.

On the other, less obvious hand, a good banger has substance. More specifically, it has enough flavor to present a distinctive personality, enough dynamic to keep from feeling flat, and enough variety to avoid being too one-dimensional. The absence of these facets is what plagues music like that of the North American dubstep scene (or brostep if you prefer its colloquial, somewhat derogatory term). Most artists creating this style of music take an exceedingly formulaic approach to everything from song structures to sound banks, consequently failing to stand out among an already overlarge crowd. Their insistence on bombarding the listener with unrelenting barrages of electronic wankery renders the songs quite stale, because the initial appeal of that excessive indulgence wears off frustratingly quickly. This is why “the drop” is considered so important: it generally is the only case of clear contrast, providing an easily accessible payoff.

TNGHT, the production duo of Glasgow's Hudson Mohawke and Montreal's Lunice, has certainly nailed the first condition on their self-titled debut EP. Each of its five tracks rides hard-hitting grooves inspired by the rumbling bass drums, snappy snares, and busy hi-hats of trap rap, a style that producers like Lex Luger have popularized on releases such as Waka Flocka Flame's Flockaveli. Hudson Mohawke has always had a penchant for goofy, playful sounds, and that is no exception here. Between the horn lead on "Higher Ground," melodic percussion on "Bugg'n," and pitch-shifted vocal clips on "Easy Easy," TNGHT carries an air of silliness that translates into delightfully animated amusement more so than gratuitous absurdity. It may appear ridiculous to some, but I find that the EP's pairing of body-moving beats with vivid flamboyance are a recipe for success in the department of surface-level fulfillment.

Substance is where TNGHT doesn't excel quite as gracefully, though they don't fall completely flat either. The melodies that lead as hooks are very simplistic, and despite being generally catchy in the moment, are ultimately not particularly memorable. Song structures are also not very ambitious, often instead defaulting to cycling a handful of repetitious samples with little variety in character or arrangement. Because bangers aren't looked to for progressive songwriting, this is a minor issue, but it's nevertheless difficult to imagine the duo stretching the EP's small array of ideas across anything much longer than the fifteen minutes it barely surpasses. Still, the group's attention to detail in regards to the production should be noted. The wealth of finely tuned sonic ornaments lends TNGHT spirited color, and with that color comes an undeniably bold, albeit narrow identity.

At the end of the day, TNGHT isn't exactly groundbreaking, nor is it swimming in depth; however, it is not only a solid entry into the worlds of both electronic dance music and instrumental hip hop, but also a refreshing take on the increasingly popular idea of electronic/hip hop hybrids. It may be limited in scope, but the EP also displays two producers putting out some of the most consistent, potent, and fully realized work they have to their names thus far.

Score: Decent 7

Stream TNGHT in its entirety via the duo's YouTube channel:

(Does this EP have you shaking your butt in excitement or your head in disgust? Tell me on Twitter.)

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